There are a lot of different opinions of how carbs should be used to build muscle or lose fat. Depending on how you use your carbs, they can be your weapon of choice for building muscle mass and strength, or they can be your weak point and destroy your hard earned shape.
And to make the matter even more complicated, there are hundreds of different opinions on this subject. Here is a list of facts that can really help in handling the controversy around carbohydrates consumption and allow you to gain muscle with minimal fat percentage.
1. Low glycemic index over high glycemic index carbs
Carbs give you the fuel and energy for your workouts so you can’t cut them out completely. But, when choosing your carb sources, try to choose complex carbohydrates. For complex carbs, turn to sources like brown rice, oats, potatoes, yams and vegetables.
Why complex carbs?
Because they are composed of long chains of sugars and digested very slowly when compared to the high glycemic index carbs. This means that they help promote more stable insulin production (no insulin peaks) and blood sugar levels, which is a good thing when you are trying to build muscle instead and avoid the storage of excess fat under your skin. When trying to gain muscle an athlete can eat up to 3g/lb (2g/lb for women) of carbs on a daily basis.
2. Eat high glycemic index carbs after your workout
High glycemic index carbs are easily digested and they tend to increase insulin very quickly. Although we said you should avoid “fast” carbohydrates in order to keep you blood sugar levels stable, there is one exception. You can eat “fast” carbs right after your intense workout. You see, insulin’s controls the storage of carbs into the liver and skeletal muscle. Higher doses of insulin result in storing the excess carbs as fat under your skin.
That’s why athletes usually try to prevent insulin spikes and avoid high glycemic index cabs. But after an intense workout, your glycogen supplies are almost depleted so an insulin peak can stimulate anabolism and the glycogen rebuilding process.
Some good sources of fast carbs include – white bread, white rice, sugar, honey and most of the refined foods.
3. Eat Fiber
Eating fiber improves anabolism by improving the uptake of amino acids and carbs into the skeletal muscle. At the same time fiber slows down the digestion of carbs and protein, which in turn keeps the production of insulin steady. Good sources of fiber include oats, vegetables, beans, brown rice, berries, nuts and seeds.
4. Eat the majority of your daily carbs after the workout
Higher quantities of carbohydrates after the workout have less chance of being stored as excess fat, simply because depleted glycogen has to be stored first while fat storage is a secondary objective of your body. This is one of the reasons why some of the intermittent protocols like Leangains and The Renegade Diet are effective for fat loss.
5. Eat a part of your daily carbs after the fast
Another moment to eat your carbs is right after the fast. That’s because after a certain number of hours of not eating the liver and muscle glycogen levels are low, as well as blood sugar. Your body must restore these levels before stimulating the fat storing machinery in the body.
6. Rotate the amount of carbs you eat
Rotating your carb intake is a good way to ensure that you’ll preserve your hard gained muscle and lose some body fat. Actually this is a great fat-loss strategy. If for example you eat 500g of carbohydrates a day to maintain your weight, try doing this:
– Drop your carb intake to 100g for two days
– Eat 500g of carbs the next 2 days
– Eat 900 g of carbs the next 2 days
This way you have eaten the same amount of carbs over a period of time, but the difference is that the first 2 days you are depleting the glycogen (fat loss occurs) and then recovering the lost glycogen instead of stimulating fat storage.
7. Improve insulin resistance with supplements
You can improve muscles sensitivity to insulin by using supplements such as omega 3 fatty acids, chromium picolinate and alpha lipoic acid. Supplementing with these three supplements during the day can really help in improving carbs storage into glycogen. 4 g of Omega3, 80-100ug of chromium and 150-200ug of ALA can get the job done.